Leigh Hine: London 2012 legacy to dictate UK sporting history
By Leigh Hine - 29 June 2009
The most significant legacy of the London 2012 Games will be the shape of the sporting landscape in the UK once the "Greatest Show On earth" has moved on.
The 2012 Olympics marks what could be the beginning of a glorious decade for British sport with the Commonwealth Games confirmed in Glasgow in 2014 and pending bids for both the Rugby World Cup of 2015 and the FIFA World Cup of 2018/2022.
We have already seen the benefits the 2002 Commonwealth Games delivered for Manchester and how effective legacy planning can be. Its facilities and support-expertise have made it an award winning sports city in its own right and the continued successes of the organisations housed in the Sports City complex have become the envy of the world.
Since its award in 2005, London 2012 has been a major catalyst in the development and professionalisation of the administration area of participation & performance sport. The industry may however face a significant challenge to maintain this development if Government funding is reduced following the current cycle in 2013. With sports looking at additional revenue streams in a competitive global market, how they prepare now for this change will dictate which sports continue to flourish post 2013 and which go back to the ‘amateur’ days of pre 2005.
Across the vast majority of sports organisations we work with, we have witnessed national federations, in particular, taking the steps required to up their game over the last couple of years. This has been evidenced by their willingness to invest in salaries on a par with the world beyond sport for those with the skills to really make a difference.
Those who have invested in first class chief executives, heads of development and marketing professionals are sewing the seeds for continued success. They are growing their membership bases, professionalising their structures, increasing participation in their sports and signing long-term commercial deals, which will keep them on course in case the flow of Government funding begins to slow from 2013.
We expect London 2012 to have an equally powerful impact on the domestic job market and the Games will certainly help to ensure the UK has the talent pool required to deliver world-class events for years to come. Around 3,500 people will be directly employed in roles across the entire spectrum of sports events planning, management and delivery. After the Games are concluded, some professionals will take their skills back into the domestic sports market, others will work on events around the world, while some will savour the Olympic experience but return to other sectors. The net effect though, will have been to up-skill the UK workforce in these specialised areas and increase the professionalisation of the industry.
However, predicted change implies this post Games period may not be straightforward for all candidates in the UK sports marketplace. With a proportion of 3,500 LOCOG staff coming onto the market, there is likely to be significant competition for jobs, and logic suggests that this may lead to downward pressure on salaries.
While this may be partly offset by a natural turnover of staff who decide to see the Games through before retiring or returning to another sector, this is not the end of the story. Sports bodies which could be vulnerable to a drop-off in funding from 2013 may find themselves unable to maintain salary levels and therefore retain their skill base and experience.
In many respects this is the worst case scenario. For example, a federation chief executive recruited on a salary of £90,000 may return to their role in another sector due to the sport’s inability to continue to meet salary expectations. This would result in some of the progress made in recent years being lost, as the industry has no choice but to return to recruiting for key roles within a small pool at relatively low salaries.
Right now though, sport in the UK is as healthy as it has ever been and in many respects the future looks bright. But the future can only be secured if Federations take a long-term view and start investing in the future today. That means putting in place the governance, administration and commercial programmes which will allow them not only to take advantage of the 2012 spotlight but to continue to flourish and grow in the more challenging times ahead.
Leigh Hine is the senior Consultant for elite performance and participation at Sports Recruitment International
Very interesting article and thought provoking about both the job capacity, and also salary issue that will come up in 2012. I hope the NGB's are set to adapt to the projected reduction in funding but I assume most sadly are not.
By Sports Fan
1 July 2009 at 09:55am